Education Equity: Church Advocacy
On October 18th, Nicole Baker Fulgham spoke at a Transform Minnesota breakfast hosted by Bethel Christian Fellowship. Nicole holds a doctorate in Education with a focus on urban education policy and teacher preparation. She taught fifth grade through Teach For America and has authored two books: Educating All God’s Children: What Christians Can–And Should–Do to Improve Public Education For Low-Income Kids, and Schools in Crisis: They Need Your Help (Whether You Have Kids or Not). Nicole is also the founder and President of The Expectations Project.
With 300,000 places of worship across America and 50,000 high-poverty public schools struggling to meet student needs, The Expectations Project believes faith communities can do something to address education inequality. Nicole and her team focus on six key areas:
- Early childhood education
- High standards and expectations
- Quality teachers and leadership
- Access to quality schools
- Trauma informed schools
- Racial justice.
Two recent articles points out that even as Minnesota has seen “many good faith efforts over the last two decades to close these gaps … our education gaps haven’t closed at all — if anything they are growing.” Minnesota ranks 49th in the home ownership gap, 49th in the poverty gap, and 50th on high school diploma disparities. We also rank 44th in terms of our progress in narrowing these gaps.
While filling immediate needs is important, she challenged those in attendance to be asking questions about filling systemic justice gaps through advocacy. Nicole defined advocacy as “strategic organized actions that have a goal of systemic scalable change” and believes that scripture is clear in instructing us to not only see but advocate for those on the margins. She demonstrated that as people who care about justice and all of God’s children, education equity falls under Christian responsibility. The Expectations Project believes that people of faith hold great impact potential in this area.